The Complete SEO Checklist For 2020

The Complete SEO Checklist (2020)

This is the most complete SEO checklist on the internet.

The best part?

Everything on this list is working GREAT right now.

So if you want higher Google rankings in 2020, you’ll love today’s checklist.

Let’s dive right in…

How To Use This SEO Checklist

Hey, I’m Brian Dean.

I’ve used this exact checklist to grow my organic traffic by 161.96% in 30 days:

organic traffic increase

It’s also helped me rank for SUPER competitive keywords, like “on page SEO”.

"on page seo" – Google ranking

And “keyword research”:

"keyword research" – Google ranking

That said…

You don’t need to implement everything on this checklist.

Just do the best you can.

The more tips you put into practice, the more traffic you’ll get.

SEO Basics Checklist

First, let’s tackle the SEO fundamentals. Here’s where you’ll learn about the tools and plugins you’ll need to rank in search engines.

1. Setup The Google Search Console

The Google Search Console is a VERY powerful free SEO tool.

GSC – Backlinko performance report

This tool is designed to help you track your site’s performance in Google search.

That’s why the Google Search Console is packed with useful features, like:

  • See which keywords bring you the most traffic
  • Submit a sitemap
  • Fix website errors
  • Receive messages from the Google search team
  • Lots more

In short: if you’re serious about SEO, setting up the Google Search Console is a key first step.

2. Install Bing Webmaster Tools

Next, setup Bing Webmaster Tools.

Is Bing as popular as Google? No. But up to a third of all searches are done on Bing. So it’s worth optimizing for.

Plus, Bing Webmaster Tools has some nifty features, like a built-in keyword research tool.

Bing Webmaster Tools

3. Setup Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the BEST way to see how people find (and use) your site.

Google Analytics

Its many helpful features include:

  • See how much traffic you get from Google
  • Find the pages on your site that bring you the most traffic
  • See if your traffic is increasing (and by how much)
  • Identify other sites and search engines that send you traffic
  • Your average bounce rate, page views, and time on site

Pro Tip: Connect Google Analytics with the Google Search Console. When you do, you’ll see helpful SEO information from inside of your Google Analytics account.

Google Analytics connected with Google Search Console

Here’s a resource that will walk you through the steps.

4. Install Yoast SEO (WordPress Users Only)

Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin plugin on the planet.

And for good reason.

Yoast makes it super easy to optimize your WordPress site for search engines.

Yoast SEO Plugin

It also helps you with technical SEO stuff, like robots.txt and sitemaps. Recommended.

Keyword Research Checklist

Keyword Research is the foundation of SEO. So it’s important to do keyword research the right way. And in this checklist I’ll show you how to quickly find keywords that your customers search for.

1. Discover Long Tail Keywords With “Google Suggest”

This is one of the best ways to uncover long tail keywords.

Here’s how it works:

First, type a keyword into Google.

Type a keyword into Google

But don’t press enter…or the “Google Search” button. Instead, check out the keywords that Google shows you:

Google search – "link building" – Suggested keywords

(These are known as “Google Suggest” keywords)

Because these keywords come straight from Google, you KNOW that people are searching for them.

Which means that they’re great keywords to optimize your site around.

Pro Tip: Check out This tool scrapes Google Suggest keywords, which makes this process much easier to scale.

Keyword Tool

2. Find Solid Keywords In The Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is Google’s official keyword research tool.

Google Keyword Planner

It’s technically designed for Google Adwords. That said, it’s still VERY useful for SEO keyword research.

After all, the data comes straight from Google. So you know that it’s super accurate.

Here’s a guide on using The Google Keyword Planner for SEO.

3. Tap Into Online Communities

Reddit, Quora, forums and other online communities are excellent places to find keywords.

And I recently created a video that shows you how to find untapped keywords in these communites (step-by-step).

Here you go:


4. Identify Low Competition Keywords With KWFinder

KWFinder is a freemium keyword research tool.

What makes KWFinder unique is that it gives you TONS of data on each keyword.


As you can see, when you type a keyword into KWFinder, you get information on:

  • Search volume
  • Keyword difficulty
  • CPC
  • Trends
  • Estimated visits

That way, you can choose low-competition keywords that are easy to rank for.

5. Find “Question Keywords” With ATP

Question Keywords are PERFECT for blog posts and articles.

(For example: “How do you make cold brew coffee?”)

But how do you find them?

Answer The Public.

This free tool shows you questions that people search for online.

Answer The Public

That way, you can answer these questions with your content.

On-Page SEO Checklist

Now it’s time to optimize your content using a handful of tested on-page SEO techniques.

1. Include Your Keyword In Your URL

Your URL helps Google understand what your page is all about. And a keyword-rich URL can improve your organic CTR.

Keyword-rich URLs correlate with a higher organic CTR

That’s why you want to include your keyword in your URL.

For example, my target keyword for this page is “SEO checklist”.

So I made the URL for this page:


2. Use Short URLs

Keep your URLs as short as possible.


A recent analysis of 1 million Google search results found that short URLs rank best in Google.

short urls rankings

3. Front-Load Your Keyword In Your Title Tag

It’s no secret that you should use your keyword in your title tag.

But not as many people know that WHERE you put your keyword matters.

Specifically, you want to put your keyword in the front of your title tag.

For example, my main keyword for this post is “SEO case study”.

Skyscraper Technique 2.0 post

As you can see, my title tag starts off with that keyword:

"Skyscraper Technique 2.0" post in SERPs

4. Embed Title Tag Modifiers

Title Tag Modifiers are words and phrases to add to your title tag.

When you do, your page will rank for lots of long tail keywords.

Here’s a video that walks you through this process:


5. Use Your Keyword Once In The First 150 Words

Google puts more weight on the first 100-150 words of your page.

So make sure to use your keyword once here.

For example, for my SEO tools post, you can see that I use the term “SEO Tools” right off the bat:

SEO Tools post keyword usage

6. Use Your Keyword in H1, H2 or H3 Tags

Make sure to include your keyword in H1, H2 or H3 tags.

For example:

You might have noticed that I included the term “SEO Checklist” in the first subheader on this page:

SEO Checklist keyword

Well, that subheader is wrapped in an H2 tag. And including “SEO Checklist” in an H2 can help me rank higher for that keyword.

That said:

This tip won’t make a big dent in your Google rankings.

But when it comes to search engine optimization, every little bit helps.

7. Optimize Images

The images you use say a lot about your content.

Unfortunately, Google is really bad at reading images.

So to help them understand your images, you want to optimize your image alt tags and filenames.

(As a bonus: optimized images also helps you rank in image search)

Here’s how:

First, when you save the image, use a filename that briefly describes what that image is.

For example, let’s say you just took a picture of an spinach omelette with your iPhone.

Well, you’d want to name that image something like:


Then, when you add the image to your page, give it a descriptive alt tag.

I like to use lots of alt text so Google can fully understand what my image is:

Image alt tag

That’s all there is to it.

8. Use Synonyms and LSI Keywords

Back in the day, it made sense to “keyword stuff” your page.

Not anymore.

Today, Google is smart.

So instead of using the same keyword 1000 times, use synonyms and LSI keywords.

For example, let’s say you want to rank for “how to start a blog”.

Well, you’d want to mention that exact keyword a few times on your page… and synonyms like:

  • How to launch a blog
  • Starting a blog
  • How to create a blog
  • How to setup a blog on WordPress

You get the idea 🙂

Next, add some LSI Keywords.

LSI Keywords are terms that go along with your main keyword.

You can find a bunch of these using


Then, just add a few of these LSI keywords to your page. And you’re set.

9. Use External Links

Make sure to link out to 5-8 authority sites in your article.

For example, in this list of SEO techniques, I link to trusted websites like Wikipedia and

Wikipedia and Google links

And those links show Google that my content is well-referenced and trustworthy.

10. Use Internal Links

This is super simple:

Whenever you publish a new piece of content, link to 2-5 other pages on your site.

Pro Tip: Use keyword-rich anchor text in your internal links.

For example, note how I use the anchor text “on-page SEO”, in this internal link:

Internal link

This tells search engines that the page I’m linking to is about: “on-page SEO”.

Technical SEO Checklist

Technical SEO can make or break your rankings. Fortunately, fixing technical SEO problems isn’t that hard… especially if you follow the items on this checklist.

1. Identify Crawl Errors

A “Crawl Error” means that Google has trouble viewing a page on your site.

And if they can’t view your page, it’s not gonna rank for anything.

You can easily find Crawl Errors in the Google Search Console’s “Coverage” report:

Google Search Console's Coverage Report

If you notice Google is having trouble accessing one of your important web pages (for example, robots.txt is blocking search engine spiders), you’ll want to get that fixed ASAP.

2. Find Out How Google Views Your Page

Sometimes users can see everything on your page…

…but Google can’t.


If Google can’t fully access your page, it won’t rank.

That’s why I recommend using the Google Search Console’s “Inspect URL” feature.

Just enter a page from your site at the top of the GSC.

GSC – Enter URL

When you do, you’ll see your page from Google’s point of view:

GSC – URL Inspection report

Very helpful.

3. Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly

Google recently launched a new “Mobile-First Index“.

Which means:

If your site isn’t mobile optimized, it’s not going to rank very well.

Fortunately, you can easily see your site’s mobile friendliness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Just pop in a page from your site… and get a clear “yes or no” answer.

Mobile-friendly test result

Pretty cool.

4. Fix Broken Links

Broken links can REALLY hurt your SEO.

So you definitely want to find broken links… and fix them.

The easiest way to do that?

It’s a free tool that scans your site for broken links:

broken link checker

5. Secure Your Site With HTTPS

HTTPS is a confirmed Google ranking signal.

Google HTTPS

So if you haven’t already, it’s time to move your site to HTTPS.

(Or if you just launched a new site, set it up with HTTPS on day 1)

Here’s a guide to help you migrate your site to HTTPS… without hurting your SEO.

6. Check Your Site’s Loading Speed

Does your site load insanely fast?

If not, your site isn’t going to rank as well.

That’s why you want to head over to PageSpeed Insights.

This free tool lets you know how quickly your site loads for desktop and mobile users:

Backlinko's PageSpeed Insight results

It even lets you know what you can do to speed things up.

PageSpeed Insights actionable feedback

Content Checklist

There’s no denying it: if you want to rank in Google, you need to publish great content. That’s why content is now a BIG part of any modern-day SEO strategy. And in this section I’ll show you the exact steps to creating the type of content that ranks in 2020 (and beyond).

1. Create Amazing Content Using “The Skyscraper Technique”

The Skyscraper Technique is a powerful formula for publishing amazing content.

In fact, I used this technique to double my search engine traffic:

organic traffic

Here’s the 3-step process:

  1. First, identify a piece of popular content in your industry
  2. Next, create something even better
  3. Finally, promote that content

Obviously, I don’t have room to go into more detail on these steps here.

So if you want to learn more about The Skyscraper Technique, here are two helpful resources:

My All-Time Favorite White Hat SEO Technique (59% More Organic Traffic)

How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days

2. Chunk Your Content to Maximize Readability

No one likes reading giant walls of text:

Wall of text

That’s why I ALWAYS break my content into easy-to-read chunks, like this:

Easy-to-read chunks of text

These chunks keep my bounce rate low, which is a key Google ranking factor.

(More on that later)

3. Cover Your Page’s Topic In-Depth

When we analyzed over a million Google Search Results, one thing stood out:

Content that ranks best in Google tends to cover an entire topic in-depth.

covering a topic in depth

For example, I recently published this guide on my site.

Video SEO post

I could have published a lame piece of content like: “5 Tips for Video SEO”.

Instead, I created a guide that covered EVERYTHING about that topic.

And that’s the main reason that it ranks in the top five in Google for my primary keyword:

"video seo" Google Ranking

(And gets tons of shares on social media)

4. Use Schema Markup

Schema markup helps search engines understand your content better.

In fact, Google recently went on the record to say that Schema can help your rankings.

With that…

Implementing Schema can be tricky.

That’s why I recommend Google’s Structured Data Testing tool.

Structured data test result

It makes using Schema MUCH easier than trying to do it manually.

5. Focus on Content Formats That Are Working Right Now

The team at BuzzSumo recently reviewed 100 million articles.

So, what did they find?

First, the bad news:

“The majority of content gets zero backlinks”.


Now, some good news:

They discovered that certain content formats perform better than others.

Specifically, “the big winners are sites that have built a strong reputation for original, authoritative content.”

What do they mean by “original, authoritative” content?

  • Content written by experts
  • Original research (like surveys and industry studies)
  • Content that isn’t just regurgitated information
  • Case studies and real life examples
  • Evergreen content that provides value for YEARS

For example, I recently put together this giant list of SEO tools:


I personally tested and reviewed 188 tools. It was an insane amount of work.

But it was totally worth it.


To date this post has generated almost 9 thousand backlinks.

SEO Tools post – Backlinks

6. Use Multimedia

Industry studies (like this one) show that using multimedia can help you rank in Google:

multimedia google rankings

For example, you might notice that this post contains LOTS of images.

I do this for two main reasons:

First, it just makes for better content.

Second, images and other forms of multimedia help content rank better.

So I recommend using these forms of multimedia in your content:

  • Images
  • Charts
  • Infographics
  • Visual Content
  • Videos
  • Interactive polls and quizzes

With that, it’s time to cover a SUPER important part of SEO: link building.

Link Building Checklist

When it comes to SEO, link building is KEY. In fact, Google recently confirmed that backlinks are one of their “top 3” ranking signals. Unfortunately, building links isn’t easy (that’s why most other SEO checklists skip this step). But if you want to rank in Google, links are a must. And in this section I’ll show you how to do it.

1. Build Powerful Backlinks With Guest Posting

Guest posting is an AWESOME link building strategy.

That said:

There’s a right and wrong way to guest post.

Right way: Publish your guest post on respected sites in your industry.

Wrong way: Publish guest posts on any website that has a “write for us” page.

In fact, I only guest post on sites that will send me targeted traffic.

For example, I published this guest post on the Buffer blog:

Brian Buffer post

Not only did I get a great backlink from my guest post, but decent amount of traffic too:

Guest post traffic

2. Reverse Your Competitor’s Backlinks

Why reinvent the wheel when you can copy your competitor’s link sources?

To do this, you’ll need a link analysis tool.

I personally use Ahrefs.

But if you’re on a budget, you can use a freemium tool like Link Explorer (from Moz).

No matter what tool you choose, the process is exactly the same:

  1. Grab your competitor’s URL.
  2. Pop it into the tool
  3. Finally, get as many of their links as you can

For example, here’s a link report from Ahrefs of my site:

Ahrefs – Backlinko backlinks


Some of these links will be nearly impossible to replicate

(For example, links from sites I have relationships with).

But many are pretty easy to copy.

(Like links from guest posts and interviews)

3. Build Contextual Backlinks With Link Roundups

This strategy works GREAT.

That said, it comes with a catch.

I reveal that catch (and how this technique works) right here:


4. Become a Podcast Guest

This is similar to guest posting.

But instead of contributing an article, you go on a podcast as a guest.

For example, I went on this podcast last year:

Brian podcast

As you can see, I got a sweet backlink (and a handful of targeted visitors).

Podcast backlinks

5. Mention Influencers In Your Blog Posts

This process couldn’t be simpler:

First, mention influential bloggers in your content.

Then, let them know you mentioned them.

(Seriously, that’s it)

For example, when I published my list of SEO tools, I let the founder of each tool know that I featured them:

outreach email

And, as you can see, they happily shared my content on social media.

Bonus #1: Advanced SEO Tips and Tactics

Now that you’ve got the basics down, let me walk you through a handful of advanced SEO tips and techniques.

1. Optimize Your Site for Click-Through-Rate

There’s no doubt about it:

The more people click on your result, the higher you’ll rank.

CTR Google rankings

CTR is a user experience signal that Google is paying more and more attention to.

I reveal EXACTLY how to boost click-through-rate (CTR) in this video:

2. Limit Website Downtime

If your site goes down, users get mad.

As it turns out, Google gets mad too.

In fact, they state that unplanned site outages “can negatively affect a site’s reputation.”

Fortunately, you can easily track site downtime with a tool like Pingdom.

Pingdom pings your site hundreds of times per day.

If it’s down, you’ll get a notification so you can fix the problem ASAP.

Pingdom alert

3. Delete “Dead Weight” Pages

Google recently said that a huge site with tons of pages can be bad for SEO.

To quote the Google rep (Gary Illyes):

“Narrow it down as much as you can. Don’t create low quality and no value add pages. It’s just not worth it because one thing is that we don’t necessarily want to index those pages. We think that it’s a waste of resources. The other thing is that you just won’t get quality traffic. If you don’t get quality traffic then why are you burning resources on it?”

This is why I make sure that every page on my site is AWESOME.

In fact, Backlinko generates over 300k unique visitors per month…

…despite having only 100 posts:

Backlinko – Published posts

How is this possible?

It’s because I focus on 100% quality.

Despite the fact that this quality over quantity approach clearly works, I see A LOT of sites struggle with “Dead Weight” pages.

Dead Weight pages like:

  • WordPress category and tag pages
  • Outdated blog posts
  • Duplicate content
  • Low-quality blog posts
  • Ecommerce product pages with zero sales
  • Archive pages
  • Thin content/boilerplate content
  • Old services pages

And as you just saw, Google said that these Dead Weight pages can hurt your SEO efforts. So I recommend deleting them.

4. Improve Your Site’s Dwell Time

Dwell Time is another key Google ranking factor.

Google wants to see that people stay on your site.

If people quickly bounce from your page and visit another search result, it tells Google:

“People hate this page!”.

Bounce from search result

But when people get what they want from your page, they’ll stick around. And Google will take notice:

Result with low bounce rate


How can you keep people on your site longer?

Here are a few simple tips that work really well:

5. Update and Relaunch Outdated Content

Do you have old articles on your blog collecting dust?

If so, check this out:

I recently updated and relaunched this post from my blog:

White Hat SEO case study

I improved the formatting, added more meaty content, included new screenshots and more.

Backlinko – White Hat SEO Guide

(Basically, I made the page better)

Then, I relaunched it like it was a new post.

And that simple 1-2 punch increased search engine traffic to that page by 260%:

organic traffic increase in google analytics


Bonus #2: Case Studies and Examples

Now it’s time to show you the strategies from this checklist in action.

Specifically, I’m going to show you how Sean at used a handful of the items on this checklist to increase his organic traffic by 88%.

1. How Sean Improved His On-Page Optimization

Sean’s site had A TON of pages.

So it didn’t make sense to spend hours on each one.

That’s why Sean focused on optimizing his 10 most important pages.

Some of Sean’s most important pages were blog posts, like this:

a blog post from the proven blog

Others were service pages, like his homepage:

proven homepage

But in general, Sean used the on-page SEO tips from this checklist on all 10 pages.

Sean’s content was already well optimized. So it only needed to make a few tweaks.

For example, let’s see how Sean improved his post on questions to ask references.

a piece of content

First, Sean to add his target keyword (“questions to ask references”) in the first 100 words of his article:

Using target keyword in content

He also sprinkled LSI keywords (like “business references”) into his content:

LSI keyword usage

Now that Sean’s content was keyword-optimized, it was time to boost his click-though-rate.

2. How Sean (Quickly) Improved His CTR By 64.1%

Sean had a post on his blog called: 100+ Best Job Boards to Find Niche Talent.

proven blog post

Here’s what the page’s organic result looked like:

google listing

Not bad…but could be better.

Here’s exactly what Sean did to improve this listing’s CTR:

First, he looked at Adwords ads for keywords, like “job boards”:

And he noticed that most listed a specific number of job boards in their ads:

adwords with a number

(Sean also noticed that NONE of them used the term, “niche talent”).

So Sean changed his title tag to:

“100+ Job Boards For Job Seekers and Recruiters”

And his meta description tag to:

“Find the best job boards on the web all in one place. See our list of 100+ boards right here.”

Here’s what his Google result looks like now:

new google result

Today, that page’s CTR is 4.88%…

64.1% higher than before.

average ctr

Pretty cool, huh?

3. How Sean Got Users to Spend More Time On His Site

If people stick to your site like superglue, Google will give you a rankings boost.

Here’s how Sean got people to spend more time on his site:

First, Sean pushed his content above the fold.


Well, Proven’s blog posts used to have a big gap between the site’s navigation and the post title:

Space above a blog post

The top of your page is million-dollar real estate.

That’s why you want to avoid unnecessary space that pushes your content below the fold.

So he reduced that space by 50%.

Proven’s blog also had breadcrumbs navigation.

Breadcrumbs navigation

Breadcrumbs navigation is OK for an ecommerce site. But it’s not necessary for a blog.

So Sean got rid of it.

Proven’s blog posts also had massive images at the top of each post.

image usage in a blog post

These definitely looked cool…

…but they pushed Sean’s excellent content below the fold.

So Sean made his post images significantly smaller:

Example of image in content

Next, Sean made his blog post introductions “sticky”.

Your blog post introductions are HUGE.

Because the truth is this:

If you lose someone in your intro, you’ve lost them for good.

But if you hook someone with a compelling introduction…

…they’re MUCH more likely to stick around.

For example, Sean’s changed his introduction from this:

blog post introduction

To this:

new blog post introduction

What did he change exactly?

First, Sean cut out sentences that stated the obvious.

First sentence of content

He also formatted the content so that there were only 1-2 sentences per paragraph (this improves your content’s readability).

Short paragraphs

These design and introduction improvements boosted Proven’s “Avg. Time On Page” by 12.2%:

google analytics avg time on page

4. What Happened When Proven Deleted 10k Dead Weight Pages

Proven had A LOT of dead weight pages on their site.

In fact, they had 48,300 pages indexed in Google:

number of indexed pages in google

Because is an online job board, they had a lot of old job listings hanging around:

old job posting

Not to mention profile pages for companies that hadn’t posted a job in months:

company profile page

Also, Proven’s search result pages were getting indexed…

indexed search result page

…which was creating tons of duplicate content.

So Sean quickly deleted or redirected’s Dead Weight pages.

In total, Sean deleted or redirected over 10,000 pages.

And this is one of the main reasons that their search traffic improved so quickly.

organic traffic increase in google analytics part 2

5. How Sean Boosted Proven’s Page Speed

Our recent study of 1 million Google search results found a significant correlation between site speed and rankings:

Average Page Load Spead (for URL's domain)_line

(Not to mention the fact that Google has said that they use page speed as a ranking signal).

So yes, site speed IS important for SEO.

Here’s exactly how Proven sped things up:

First, they ran their site through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool:

google pagespeed insights

Then they tested their site’s loading speed with

Why did did they use both?

Google’s tool only looks at your page’s HTML.

GTMetrix actually loads your page.

(That way you can see if server issues are slowing things down)

Overall, Sean’s site loaded pretty quickly.

The only problem was that his images weren’t well optimized.

website speed report before

Once he optimized his images (by manually resizing them and specifying image dimensions in his HTML), Sean’s loading speed significantly improved:

website speed report after


As you saw, this SEO checklist really works.

But before you get started on the checklist, I’d like to hear from you.

What did you think of today’s post?

Or maybe you have a question about something you read.

Let me know by leaving a comment below.


  1. Brian, amazing recap.

    It’s been a fantastic experience working together and I can’t recommend this checklist more.

    It’s transformed our content marketing and SEO strategy and directly impacted our growth and cost of customer acquisition.

    We are still continually tweaking our content, page load times, titles, and so forth based on this checklist and have seen continued traffic and ranking gains.

    If you have a blog and want it to to capture more organic traffic, I highly recommend dropping whatever you are doing and get to work on these checklist items. It will pay off big time.

    1. Thanks Sean.

      As I mentioned, it was awesome working with you. You trusted in the process and the results have been insane. Even better than I was expecting. Kudos to you and the rest of the Proven team.

      1. Hi Brian. Just found your blog today and soaking up the content its killer! I run a travel blog with my girlfriend but its specific to type 1 diabetics so quite niche. We make diabetic specific content of course, but also general travel blogs.
        My question is (based on this article), is it harmful for us that we are pumping out 2 or 3 posts a week and some of them are just general travel posts? so would we have more effectiveness getting to the top of google for “type 1 diabetic travel” without all of the non-diabetic related blogs?

        Many thanks

      1. Hey Brian
        It was great to listen to you in Dublin another day. Didn’t get a chance to catch up after.
        Was looking for an info on your SEO course but had no luck. It would be cool if you could send a link. If you still doing it. We see you again in October in Dublin?

        1. Thanks Roman. Unfortunately, I won’t be in Dublin in October. But the gang has put together a great list of speakers.

          We will actually open up enrollment for SEO That Works in the fall. Hope to see you then.

  2. Honestly Brian, this “SEO checklist” is awesome. I love the part of optimizing your organic click-through-rate. I have bookmarked this post and will apply the techniques.


  3. Hey Brian,

    Awesome casestudy and SEO checklist. I haven’t tried many things, but your skyscraper method works very well. I have used it 4 times, and it always exceeded my expectations.

    Right now I am working on to reduce my bounce rate and improve CTR. These tips are definitely going to help me a lot. And your article came just at the right time.

    Thanks a lot 🙂 You have the best resource on the internet. 🙂

    1. Thanks Vanessa. First off, congrats on your success with The Skyscraper Technique. It takes some serious work to pull off.

      Now that you have those pieces of content that performed well, optimizing your CTR and bounce rate is a smart next move. Let me know how it goes.

  4. Wow! Impressive results! Of course, I’m not sure if I expected any less 🙂 And Sean, congratulations on the increase!

    I printed out the 7 point and have them taped up by my desk as a great reminder. Thanks again for the thoughtful information Brian!
    It’s clear you always have other’s success in mind.

    1. Hey Scott, nice! I’d love to see a picture of this checklist printed out. It might help me when I create a Content Upgrade for this post.

    2. Thanks Scott. I like the idea of the print out.

      We use checklists a ton. It’s a great way to make sure everyone is following every step.

      I highly recommend the book The Checklist Manifesto as a good compliment to Brian’s excellent work.

  5. OMG this post is great BUT soooooooooooooooooooooooo long, and I really don’t have time to read whole thing. Can it somehow be condensed so we get the gist but don’t have to spend 2 hours reading?

    1. Angela, this post is a goldmine for anyone that wants more traffic. So if SEO is a priority for you, I recommend taking the time to read it.
      If it’s not, no worries 🙂

      1. Actually, I thought this post was going to be longer LOL I enjoyed reading it I guess and that made it a quick read, you do not need 2 hrs!

        1. @Angela – I am not a fan of reading such a long posts.

          But believe me the way Brian writes & the way he structure the post, you wont be bored at any instance. His posts are long but they are truly worthy you just spend the time reading it & at the end you get tons of information. Truly a goldmine posts.

          Love your work Brian .. Cheers!

    2. I think that the length is the point! Most blog posts are not authority pieces and therefore do not merit being shared or linked to. This is a key piece of work on on-site seo. As such it will be pickd up naturally and shared and will receive links from authority sites. In addition it will be picked up and ranked by Google, because of those authority links. Read, bookmark, enjoy.

  6. Awesome checklist Brian. I recently optimized one of my pages till it had a bounce rate of 4%. I immidiately noticed my traffic going up.

    I run an ecommerce website with over 25000 products. Obviously some pages have thin content, little sales and no links. I wanted to optimize my site for quality content.
    Its a print on demand category so I wouldn’t want to delete the products.

    My thought was to no-index the pages product pages which have little content or links.
    I would love to hear your thoughts.

    [PS] You have a missing image after the page speed module. Just find the “[” in your post and you’ll see it.

    Keep rocking with these amazing posts. 🙂

    1. Thanks Yuvrav. 4%? That’s a legendary bounce rate. It’s probably a glitch. Either way, what did you do to improve by so much?

      1. Yeah.. even I was surprised! I did a few things and it kinda happened.

        1. Remove banners, text above the fold. The products come above the fold now.

        2. Added a small “free shipping” notice on top, like Hello Bar.

        3. My design looks professional and trustworthy.

        4. Using Google GA enhanced e-com tracking, figured out which products were getting most clicks and moved them on the top.

        5. There are a lot of filters available which can help narrow down the products quickly.

        The average time on page is over a minute now. I’ll try to improve some other elements as well. 🙂

        Btw, what would be your suggestion to the large number of products? Should most of them be no-indexed?

        1. Very cool. It depends. If the products are ranking/selling, I’d keep them. Otherwise I’d noindex or delete them

        2. 4% bounce rate is not legendary, it’s a glitch. Check your code, I bet you have your GA code twice on a page. You are welcome.

  7. Interesting how aligning the picture on the right instead of having a massive and graphically impressive picture, lowers the bounce rate. There are still wars among web designers about this whole above-the-fold thing. My take is that it comes down to the actual case and if the design feels natural and the picture really adds value to the story.

    1. Agreed Karsten. I personally think the huge image above the content looks cooler. But it’s terrible UX if you think about it. The user came to read your content. Why make them work for it?

    1. You’re welcome, Louis. I legitimately love SEO so I don’t mind running 20 experiments to see what’s working right now.

  8. Well done for being a good tester, Sean – awesome results!

    It’s time for me to bust out a big, juicy post, so I can start getting some organic traffic!

  9. Hey Brian,

    Thanks so much for this – awesome. I just set up my own copywriting site/blog that I hope to turn into a business and be able to quit my job. Your stuff is definitely gonna help!

    Thanks again man 🙂

  10. This is a very informative post. While it combines techniques from your previous posts, I thought it was very helpful to do so. Those are all great tips. I personally use your posts as guides when writing content so I believe in what you do. Thanks for all the time you take in putting these articles together .

    1. No problem, Jason. I’ve had a ton of people from the Backlinko community ask me about technical SEO/site audits. So I decided to publish this resource. Glad you enjoyed it.

  11. Brian, thank you for putting together another great SEO resource.
    Super helpful and easy to digest.

    Quick question regarding getting rid of “dead weight” pages.

    Would it be sufficient to “no-index” these pages as opposed to removing them altogether ? (We have internal users that still need to access these pages).

    Thanks again.

    1. Dmitry, great question. This is something I’ve debated quite a bit with other SEO peeps.

      And I’d say that if the page brings value to users and/r brings in revenue, you want to noindex it. Otherwise you’re better off simply deleting it.

  12. Great stuff as always Brian. Always great to learn something new from the master. I now have to go fix my above the fold!! thanks :>

    BTW: Give a go for speed tests, I find it a lot more powerful and realistic than Gmetrix.

    1. Thanks Ashley. Yup, I recommend testing smaller images on a few pages and seeing how it goes.

      Thanks for the heads up about I’ll check it out.

  13. Hi, Brian

    First of all AWESOME case study on SEO checklist. I loved it!

    I have two quick questions for you.
    1. How many LSI keywords should we sprinkle in the 2000-3000 word article?
    2. If we have low-quality content without on page SEO. Should we update it or delete it permanently?

    I would like to see your views on following asked questions.

    Aakash Patel

    1. Thanks dude. 1. There’s no hard-and-fast rule. Just sprinkle in as many as make sense. 2. If you feel that it can be salvaged, I’d update it.

  14. Hi Brian,

    Great article as always.

    Would the technique towards low-quality pages on ecommerce sites work well here?

    I’m feeling that if I grouped categories together more if they are it may help.

    1. Jim, yes they would. In a way Sean’s site is an ecommerce site. Instead of products, he has job postings.

      Does that answer your question?

      1. Thanks it does.

        I’ve always wondered how to weed out pages with little or no traffic as I felt it couldn’t be helping anyone.

        Google Analytics would show me if I filtered it but I guess it will need to be cross referenced on search analytics manually to see potential as well.

        1. Cool. Honestly, 9 times out of 10 the best approach is to delete them. But that’s definitely something to do on a case-by-case basis

          1. When you say dead weight, what was the criteria or bar metrics you used to say see you later for Sean?

          2. Really good question, Jim. There’s no strict definition, but dead weight pages are basically pages that don’t generate organic traffic, value for users, or revenue.

          3. For my specific use case, a lot of our dead weight pages were old job postings or customer pages that are no longer active.

            On an ecommerce site, this would be equivalent to a product page where the product is no longer available for order. It doesn’t add a ton of a value to the user even though it’s possible they stumble across it through search.

            We also had a ton of duplicate pages due to different querystring parameters that had no effect on the actual page content.

          4. For ecomm I suggest to NOT delete the pages even if the product is no longer available.

            Why? Simple because the product can be in search and you just can say that the product have been replaced with these products and do a list under it.

            So check what traffic have to these unavailable product pages. And also check if the product is still searched. If still searched just write more and convice them to buy something else

          5. That’s solid advice. It’s a balance. If the product isn’t available and it’s not bringing in traffic, I’d delete it.

          6. Thank Sean, Brian.

            As much as I know about e-commerce growth it always good to learn and try different things.

            I’d be happy to share some case studies towards the e-commerce sites using your list as well Brian.

            Giving back really is my focus this year. Thanks again.

  15. Hi Brian

    Great post as always – and very timely. I’m tidying up my own site and a couple of client sites and this is extremely useful.

    Many thanks!


  16. Its interesting how what you are teaching goes against almost every single popular blog template on the internet. (small images, content above the fold etc.)

    1. Hi Clwyd, they’re actually building a new one. But the old one still works (at least for current members). Yup, Screaming Frog is also solid.

    1. Thanks Chris. I agree: SEO has more than enough theory and BS. That’s why I focus on real life examples, results, proof and data.

  17. Hi Brian

    Your first point really jumped out at me!

    Im dealing with that issue, right now! My MD has asked me to write content for 5 more “manufacturer” pages – we already have 20 of these hyperlinked from the footer of our website, from logos of each manufacturer and now theres going to be 5 more.

    i want to combine all of the images of the logo, into 1 large image for the footer, and not link it to any manufacturer pages, or at best link it to one page with a summary on.

    Would you be tempted to get rid of these? Afaik there is pretty much zero organic traffic to them.

    1. Steve, in that case you may want to consider noindexing those pages. That way they’re their for visitors (I assume they provide value in some way), but won’t detract too much from your SEO efforts. That said, I think your idea is your best bet.

      1. Thank you Brian: FWIW: A couple are ranking for some good keywords, but wayyyyy down the google list, and theres literally only a couple.

        Would you put 301s from the category pages to the actual product pages with the manufacturers on?

        1. For those pages I’d focus on improving their CTR and dwell time. When done right that can push them into the top 5.

  18. Great checklist, it is so easy to get wrapped up in all the different aspects of SEO. This is a great way to take them in chunks to see great results.

  19. Wow, Another amazing post.

    Thanks for sharing this case study Brian. Learned a ton. I guess I’ll have to take a look at my content and header gap. Need that fixed.

    Nice work dude.

    1. Thanks Babs. Yup, I’d definitely test removing that gap and seeing how it impacts your bounce rate and time on site.

  20. Hi Brian,

    as always – kick ass post! I’m launching a new site soon (3rd time’s a charm!) and this just became my SEO bible. Straight to the point, easy to understand even for someone who’s been dabbling in SEO for just a year. I have a question, if you could give one piece of advice to someone launching a new website project, what would it be? I’ve been following your blog ever since I started pursuing an online business and I’d love to know your thoughts!


    1. Thanks Viv. My #1 piece of advice would be to establish your positioning. In other words, answer the question: “Why would someone read my site over the hundreds of others in this space?”.

      1. I think Courtney means social share links – You have Twitter & FB floating ones, maybe Courtney is asking if you restrict it to these too for SEO reasons, such as avoiding too much JS code bloat? (I’m wondering if you find that your primary audience is mainly on these channels?)

        1. Ahhh. Good call Mike.

          Exactly: it’s because the Backlinko tends to hang out on Twitter and Facebook way more than other networks (like Pinterest).

  21. Brian!
    I read the email you sent me and I couldn’t help my self clicking on the link!
    How do you do that???
    Could you write an article about that?

    1. Same! I came to skim it since I love your content and just spend the last hour on this article. Thanks for all of your great content over time, you’re one of my favorite resources.

  22. Very good post, I have been researching around to get advance training info for SEO, and your post was very well explained, I have a blog with 200k uniques/months ( and only 15% comes from SEO so I will use your 7 steps, thanks

  23. Hi Brian. Quick question: I’ve seen you also use the “filter” element on a number of your own posts – is there a plugin that you use for this?

    1. In Chrome, you can also right click on the page. Clicl ‘view source’, use that as the base of the code and modify it as required.

  24. Hey Brian,

    Here’s what I’m going to do with the checklist,
    I’m gonna print it
    Glue it to the wall in front my working desk
    Stared at it
    and work on it.
    I am sure these will help me a lot just like a bunch of your previous posts.
    Great work man! Appreciate this a LOT!

  25. Brilliant article as usual, Brian.
    That GTMetrix is a great tool, found quite a few things to fix now 😉
    I also learned that I need a better meta description, as my CTR is only 5% of 33.000 searches and I’m on position 2.
    Thanks Brian, always a pleasure seeing your email in my inbox.

    1. You’re welcome, June. Depending on what’s on the page (ie. Adwords ads, product listings etc.) 5% for a #2 spot may not be so bad. That said, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to organic CTR.

  26. Hey Brian,
    Nice Post, Well Said, You have covered all the aspects of main points of SEO including On-page & technical errors. I completely agree with step 3 & 4. CTR is strong ranking signal in 2016.


  27. Great post Brian, really nice, concise workflow you’ve developed, very useful for sure. It’s always so much more efficient to work from a flow like this, than just thrash around randomly fixing things without a plan, so kudos to you for publishing this post, I bet it’ll help lots of folks take action & get things done 😀

    I think it’d be super-cool to mix-in a responsive check too, something I do as part of my own little workflow when on-boarding new SEO clients, is not only check the Google mobile friendly test, but also check their current mobile user engagement metrics in GA benchmarked against their desktop visits. It’s not uncommon to find issues on various pages for mobile visitors in this way, which I think is important these days. I think it’s important to re-check the pages after making improvements to the desktop view too, as if a site uses media queries, it’s possible to inadvertently cause ‘ooops!’ moments on smaller resolution devices!

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the above Brian 🙂

    BTW, regarding the example in your post, interesting to see they use a subdomain for their blog, rather than a subfolder! I’d have thought there’d be a lot more value flowing back to the homepage from the great shares & links etc that their Skyscraper posts generate if the blog were in a subdomain?

    I guess maybe it’s a scary prospect for large domains to make such a chance though… Still, perhaps worth considering? – What’s your take on this Brian?

    Once again – great post, hugely useful! 🙂


    1. Thanks Mike. I can tell from your insightful comment that your clients should be thanking their lucky stars they found you as opposed to the thousands of so-called SEO “experts” out there. I agree 100% that seeing how users interact with the site is a smart first step in 2016.

      Regarding subfolder vs. subdomain. I 100% agree that subfolders are better. But in many cases it’s not worth switching over.

      1. Thanks for the reply Brian, great that you take the time to reply to folks individually on your comment section like this, especially with so many comments… I’m impressed 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Ryan. The most important thing with anchor text is to make sure that it’s varied. So “naked” URLs like that are just fine.

  28. Hi Brian!
    I have been counting down the days for this case study to be published! Thanks to you and Sean for being so awesome & thorough! It is beyond exciting to watch the organic growth just climb & climb.

    1. Hey Caileen. Me too! I knew that this would provide a ton of value to the Backlinko community and couldn’t wait for today. Again, congrats on everything.

  29. Hi Brian, I enjoyed every single word of your post! (It’s just funny as I received the newsletter on my junk mail).
    I’m struggling for months to increase my organic traffic, I even gave up, but now I do understand how and why! “Dead Weight pages”.
    I’ll take time to read again this post and ALL your posts! and I’ll see how I can implement it.
    Hope one day, I could get some deep advice from you.

    1. Hey Herman, yup dead weight pages can make a difference. No guarantees of course. But deleting those pages can definitely help.

      1. Hey Brian, loved the post. Quick question – when you delete a page and it’s in the “trash” tab, is that good enough?

        The reason I ask is there are a couple of projects we have on hold but the pages are done, I don’t want to redo them if I can just resurrect them when needed.

        Thank you for all that you share with us,

  30. Hey Brian,

    Thanks for this. Was getting ready to launch a skyscraper post on Friday in regards to New Zealand travel but will push it back to Monday. I’m pretty sure I can go through this list step y step and improve my user experiences plenty first.

    I really like the small picture at the top as well for the skyscraper technique. Guilty: was going to use a big beautiful pic of NZ 🙂

    Spacing is certainly some I can reduce above the fold too!
    My search traffic has improved 3x this year (essentially non-existent in December last year). Plenty more to do though.

    What are your thoughts on tags, are they are must have in posts?

    1. Awesome Jub. UX is the BIG ranking factor in 2016 to pay attention to. So you’re smart to make it a priority.

      I’d say tags are pretty much worthless. I haven’t used them in years.

  31. Hi Brian,

    This is a great piece with so much actionable insight – thanks for taking the time to put it together and share!

    Just one thought, do you think that having one huge (albeit massively useful) page with all jobs descriptions on it limits their opportunity to perform for more specific search queries (e.g. ‘mortgage processor job description’)? I suppose it could be a case of weighing up the pros and cons of each approach?

    Would be great to hear your thoughts!

    Thanks again,


    1. You’re welcome, Jason.

      That’s a legit question and concern. In Sean’s case (he can correct me if I’m wrong on this), they still kept some of their most successful descriptions on separate pages for that reason.

      1. Yes, this is a great question.

        We ended up having both, but we re-wrote and expanded all the descriptions for this Skyscraper post so there’s no duplicate content.

        A lot of our individual pages do really well for organic traffic because the specific search terms like “cashier job description” are pretty low competition but fairly high volume.

        So I think it’s worth doing both if you put the time in to make each individual page unique and rich with information.

        1. Thanks for the responses guys – really appreciated. All makes sense and seems like a good way to get around the issue.

          Hope the effort that you put in continues to drive the strong results seen to date.

          Great work!

  32. Excellent detailed information, Brian!
    I am taking a long hard look at a site that sells art prints. It has been dormant for months and needs an overhaul. After reading this article, I am confident the improvements you spelled out will make a huge difference. As I speak, I am rolling up my sleeves.

    1. Thanks Paul. I hope so too. I’d really focus on step #7 as backlinks will ultimately make or break your success with SEO.

  33. Great article as always Brian.

    When you are looking at dead pages, specifically blog posts that are getting little to no traffic (despite good on-page SEO etc) do you think it is better to no-index them, delete them totally, or try to fold them (only related ones) into a new larger single article?

    1. Wazza, I’d say in most cases you should roll them together and 301. That’s not the case with product pages, archive pages etc. But with blog posts that’s a smart move.

  34. This was very helpful. Trying to build my blogging skills and this was worth the read. What about video SEO? Do you have any articles for getting organic search for youtube videos?

  35. Great list, as always.. will work on these on my website now… One Question:

    I also indexed category pages, should i remove them and make them noindex or what?

    Is this good practice to index category pages?

    Thank you

    1. In general I’d noindex them. Not sure if you can remove them in WordPress without hacking the code. If its’ easy to get rid of category pages though, I’d get rid of them.

      1. I’m a bit confused by this, I thought that category pages are supposed to be really great for SEO? We have a marketplace that has lots of different summer camps and activities for kids. Similar to what Proven or other e-comm sites face, we struggle with a lot of really long tail category pages (e.g. “improv dance camps in XYZ zip code”) with very thin content. But we also have some really important category pages with lots of results (e.g. “STEM camps for Elementary Kids”).

        Should we still delete the thin content category pages? (By deleting, I’m assuming we remove them from the sitemap or nofollow the links. Or, do we completely remove it from the site all together?)

        How else should we think about optimizing our category pages?

  36. Brian, you are a true leader.

    Who show people the way to succeed….!

    Few months back in frustration I bumped your site and read about the skyscraper technique for the first time and become fan of it just by reading it as it makes complete sense.

    I allocate huge time, effort and resources in creating 6 skyscraper content in last 2 months and I almost doubled my organic traffic, user registration and SEO ranking. All THANKS to you.

    I wish to learn more of real stuff that matters than whole lot garbage people sells out there. I wasted almost 4 years in following the garbage stuff and I really know the value of your metrics based goldmine content.

    Read this post today and I think it’s time for our car community to loose some dead weight now as we have tonnes of data since 2010. Hope this make some great difference and show us some more better results.

    If there is anything we can do from Dubai, UAE we will be happy to help you and collaborate. Keep up the good work.

  37. Outdoing competitors by grabbing your camera/phone and taking REAL photos vs. the “cheesy” stock photos that blanket the web is a huge opportunity everyone can get in on (well almost everyone: don’t try at home if you don’t think you have a good eye for visual creative).

  38. Hey Brian.
    Awesome post. I will probably read it again to make sure I get even more out of it. I have watched I think all your videos too. I have a page that my wife and I have been working on for about 2000 hours. Lol no joke. It will be done soon. Looking forward to applying the seo knowledge I have learnt. Would you be willing to give guidance like you did with him? 🙂

  39. Awesome post, Brian! I’m also a firm believer in pruning low-quality content. No one wants that extra baggage hanging around, do they?

    I hadn’t thought of looking at Adwords ads for inspiration when writing and titles meta descriptions. Definitely something to keep in mind.

    Thanks again!

  40. As usual, great post.

    The info about dead pages is something that I have been hearing chatter about recently among my SEO peets, so I’ll have to look into it more.

    Also, you made me curious to try to increase dwell time and see the SEO impact.

    1. Thanks Garit. Yup, I’d definitely consider deleting dead weight pages. It doesn’t make sense for every website. But if you have a site with thousands of pages, it’s worth looking at for sure.

  41. Hi Brian!
    Congrats to you and Sean on the awesome work! I’ve seen a 209% increase in organic traffic since January using many of these techniques. The biggest things that have held me back is a crummy dev team, which was replaced last month, outdated design and branding but no design resources, and the fact that it is hard to come by link opportunities in my industry. Next Monday will be my first “skyscraper” post – wish me luck!


  42. Awesome and very useful post yet again Brian. It is amazing what some simple changes can do for your positioning in the SERPs. A great follow up post to this would be how all of this was optimized off site and how the content was promoted to earn links and social following.

  43. One of the very few articles found online to describe the step by step process. Will you be shedding light any time soon on ecommerce websites and how to approach them? That would be awesome.
    Keep up the great job!

  44. Hi Brian. Thanks for a great post. Very informative. I have a question: You say that your blog only has 33 blogposts. I have read on other blogs about marketing that you need to blog several times a week to keep your audience engaged. How does that work? I am sorry if this is a silly question – I am a beginner 🙂
    Best regards,

    1. Brian is 100% right.

      Back in October of last year, we produced something like 50 blog posts in one month because we followed the same advice.

      It had some search impact, but minimal.

      Last month we published only one piece of content and grew our search traffic 35%.

      We have enjoyed these massive search traffic gains by changing the way we think about content. For every article we publish, we try to make it the very best piece of content available on that subject.

      There’s a lot of other parts to this as outlined in Brian’s checklist and his other articles about link building, but it all starts with amazing content.

  45. Crazy thorough as usual Brian! The sales copy tip is brilliant. I am guilty of yielding to this strategy myself, making my intros a little to wordy.

    Certainly something I am working into my new PP’s. 😉

    1. Thanks Brock. I used to be guilty of that too. Then I noticed that I my time on page shot up when I shortened the heck out of my intros.

      Keep me posted on how things go for you.

  46. Hi Brian,

    It’s fascinating blog post you know. Comparing to off page SEO, On-page SEO I think is one of the most underrated factors out there. Many people tend to overlook on-page SEO.

    Speaking of page speed, what are your thoughts on AMP project? WordPress’ plugin seems doesn’t work, and I am thinking of hiring SEO to do it for me.

    Anyway, I know it’s hard to reply to every comment, so take your time.


    1. Thanks Carl. I haven’t done much with AMP yet. But the way Google is pushing it, it’s worth looking into if your site gets a lot of mobile traffic.

  47. Hi Brian,
    Every time I’ve read your content I get something actionable and easy to understand. Thank you for sharing your insights and techniques with us all.
    Question: I manage an e-commerce site with the following stats from a Google site:___ search “About 19,100 results (0.33 seconds)”. We have a lot of products, and the site format is Parent Category > Child Category > Individual Product (for the most part). I’ve optimized the parent categories with Meta data and on-page verbiage, have done Meta data on the child categories, and have created unique title tags for each of the individual product pages. Is there something I can do to better optimize our Parent and Child Category pages so that our organic results are better? I’ve begun writing cornerstone content and linking, but perhaps you have additional suggestions…?
    Thank you for your time!

      1. Hi Brian, thanks for the link — it’ll take me a while to read through it all, but I’m downloading the PDF for future reference.
        I appreciate your reply. Have a good day… and thanks again for consistently creating excellent articles!

  48. Awww man now I have to go delete a bunch of pages because you say so…thanks brian. I’ve been stuck on the second page of Google for almost all my keywords (language school German site) I know this will help 🙂
    Any advice for someone stuck on the second page for months?

    1. Kevin, my #1 priority would be to build more high quality backlinks. That’s ultimately what gets you to page 1.

  49. As always, great gold mine post Brian! Will surely apply this…

    One question though. Since you’ve missed explaning the meat on the Skyscraper for Sean’s blogpost. Did you guys put the leg-work in informing others in order to get a link-back?

    1. Sounds good, Paul. Yes, I’m pretty sure Sean promoted the post with backlinks in mind. It’s one of the reasons it’s already ranking on page 1.

    2. Yes, besides optimizing the on-page SEO and CTR for the title, we used some of Brian’s link building techniques like reaching out to resource pages, broken link building, reverse engineering existing top ranked pages and guest blogging.

      This process is labor intensive, but it has helped us move into the top 10 for some high volume search terms within a month of publishing the article.

  50. Excellent post, I can’t imagine how much time you put into each post that you do. I get what you are saying about dead content, but cutting out old content that you put so much time in is hard to do. Great video’s by the way, love them!

  51. Hello Brian,

    Very useful post 🙂 i want to ask how can i apply this strategy on image based site ? My site contains more images rather than the data, so should i include the English content into my posts ?

  52. Hi, you mention about deleting pages which I agree with, just out of interest, do you 404 them or redirect them to something relevant? I’ve got lots of time based posts (about events etc) that were only relevant then so I’m going to delete them but others might be suitable to redirect to another page or potentially the homepage as well.

    1. Roger, if you have a page that makes sense to redirect, go for it. But if you redirect all your pages to your homepage it can be a bit spammy (a 301 redirect is designed for when a page moves).

  53. Just WOW! This is such a comprehensive post! I’m glad I read this BEFORE I started tweaking my site design. I knew I was missing some key points to increase my traffic, but I didn’t realize just how much. Going to work, starting with Step #1. Thank you Brian!

  54. Wow, that’s quite a lot to take in but the detailed and methodological approach has really impressed me./ I’m going to book mark this page and grow through it slowly with my note pad and start implementing

  55. Thanks Brian for a great post as usual.

    I have worked on loads of content audits this year, but never considered no indexing category pages. In my head it was how Google got to all the blog posts easily. Not being imaginative there. I will no index one of my own sites tonight and watch.

    Just to clarify. In the content you changed it from fairly uninteresting features to benifits?


    1. You’re welcome, Leslie. Actually Proven’s intros were already benefit-driven. It was more re-writing them to be more concise.

  56. You have again come up with a great post Brian! I am a huge fan of your posts and follow every tip / recommendations religiously. You are my link building and content writing God!

  57. Hi Brian – One of the strategies you have suggested here and on your other posts to improve the CTR was to update the meta title and meta description by using words that would help improve the CTR. However, I have seen that on many instances these meta title and meta descriptions are being auto-written by Google even though a good meta description and title are already specified. Do you have any suggestions on what can be done about it?

    1. Piyush that does happen (especially to description tags but sometimes to title tags too). But as long as you write an awesome title tag Google will show it to more people.

  58. Great post here Brian.

    This made me realize all that I needed to change / modify on my site.

    Great insights and detail as usual. Can’t wait to start on these steps. Mainly because I know I have a lot of dead weight pages to get rid of.

    – Andrew

    1. Thanks Andrew. I’m always looking to hear from people that delete dead weight pages. So please let me know how it works out for you.

  59. Hi Brian,

    Great post, as usual. One question: how did Sean redirect 10,000 pages; did he use a tool or something?


    1. The redirects and removal of the 10k pages was all custom, but I was able to do most of it with a few simple changes.

      Most of our low value pages that I removed were generated dynamically based on content from a database.

      For example, every job that is posted on Proven gets its own page, but each job page gets generated from the same backend source code.

      When Brian pointed out that we had a lot of old jobs that job seekers can’t even apply to anymore, it was easy to 301 redirect any expired job to our main job search page because I only had to touch one location in the source code.

      I made similar changes for customer pages.

      I also noticed that Google had duplicate content in their search index due to querystring parameters that we were passing along in the URL.

      For example, Google had separate entries for listed like this:

      Those were actually all the same page.

      Google still has some of these old pages listed in their index so over time, I expect our total indexed pages to drop even more.

      A simple way to check your own site is to query on Google site:URL.

      This will show you everything Google is indexing. Go through the results and make sure you don’t have low value or duplicate content in there.

  60. Whao, always coming up with great and life saving research.

    I tell you Brian, you don’t write articles but great and thoughtful research posts.

    Have to work with these tips on my blogs. Won’t be an easy task though

  61. Great case study, Brian! Thanks for sharing.

    I’m a little surprised you didn’t recommend that Sean move his blog from a subdomain to a subfolder. Seems like when most people do that, they see an increase in traffic and rankings.

    Also, is there a downloadable pdf containing the checklist?

    1. You’re welcome, Matt. In many cases I would recommend that. But the blog was making a ton of progress and I thought the risk outweighed the reward.

      PDF coming soon.

  62. Hey Brian,

    Great post! I love the suggestion about cleaning up old “dead” pages on your site. What are your thoughts on NOINDEXING vs 301? I read in the comments that you answered this if the page has value, you should not 301 it. That part makes a lot of sense.

    What if you have a large site though? Is there any concern with Google and Bing if I create a lot of 301 redirects at once? Could that seem odd to their spiders? Does having a lot of 301 redirects hurt my site at all in terms of SEO? Are those the only two options that I should take when I am cleaning up old content?


    P.S when are you coming back to Boston to give another presentation about links? I went to your meetup and it was incredible!

    1. Thanks Greg. I’d only 301 is there’s a relevant page to redirect to. A 301 is technically for when a page has moved. So I’d stick to that interpretation because I think Google does as well.

      PS: Maybe in September? I’ll be in Boston.

  63. Brian, you deliver every time.

    Question about improving CTR – if you already have a handful of posts that are getting a good chunk of your traffic, couldn’t it be risky to change the title tag and meta description?

    It might be better for CTR, but what if it’s not as good in google’s eyes?

    Thanks Brian!

  64. Hey Brian,
    Killing it with awesome article is your thing… Thank you for doing just that again. I am currently using your tips on my blog and I’m getting great results.

  65. When did this post first appear on the site? I first was looking at 207 comments in 3 hours and was amazed, but I see the top line says this post was last updated today, not published today.

    Anyways, this is some amazing, in depth advice!

  66. I used to think, Brian, that you’re a king of links, but I was wrong.

    You’re a king of words!

    You manage to dish up such a difficult topic of SEO so easily and surprisingly engaging.

    Your introductions are pieces of art!

    I wish you luck not only in work but in your personal life too: you deserve it like no one else. Thank you for the help you give me by supporting me.

    From my experience of an SEO specialist I may tell you that not long ago I helped to increase the traffic of my girlfriend’s travel blog by 767.33% using your advice, SEO audit (I’ve written an awesome article on SEO audit on my blog), and surely her constant work on promotion.

    What has been done:

    1. We installed an SEO-friendly WordPress theme

    2. We totally remade menus (we got rid of drop-down menus, the menus were also shortened from 30 links to 3!)

    3. We organized a correct internal link structure.

    4. We found 30 TOP articles that brought the most of the traffic in Google Search Console, and we also improved her CTR in search results.

    5. We found 30 TOP worst articles that meanwhile had a big potential (Big Search Volume), added some internal links with different anchors.

    6. Removed all trash from the sidebar and left some links and the most important articles.

    7. We improved the load speed of the website using GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights (mostly it was images).

    8. Changed image filenames.

    9. Changed publication date to Last updated

    10. Narrowed the niche by choosing only a few directions out of many.

    11. Analysed competitors’ main keywords and took the best from them.

    12. Added text on important pages keeping in mind newly selected relevant words and synonyms. (LSI keywords.)

    13. Got many external links from other blogs with the help of guest posts and competition

    14. Found technical errors using the tool called Screaming Frog.

    15. And lastly, we made friends with many other bloggers!

  67. Hey Brian,

    Managed to get rid of about 12% of my ‘dead content’ so far. Will go back through these steps twice so that number will grow.

    In regards to Step #2: Fix On-Site Issues and Errors, I’ve been guilty of not adding alt text to all images.

    Is there a plugin that makes this easier to go back over old posts and
    insert the alt text or is all about getting into the posts and inserting the alt-text HTML code manually? Cheers

    1. Awesome, Jub. Way to take action!

      As far as I know it can only be done manually because each image needs unique alt text. Kind of a pain.

    1. Jim, yup it’s ironic that I don’t have this as a downloadable checklist. I’ll try to get that out soon

  68. Amazing case study! Very detailed and I learn so much from this post. thanks for sharing Brian. You’re the best as always.

  69. Hey Brian, great piece!

    I was very intrigued by one of the steps you listed .

    When you said it was time to delete the pages that have no weight , you said that the total volume was almost 10 thousand pages and that’s a lot!

    You know tell me if there is any tool or plugin to perform the redirects all those pages ?

    I think to do this as quickly cleaning is something very complicated.

    Thank you in advance for your attention.

  70. Hi Brian
    Great post really ! I can’t wait to full fill all 7 steps and tricks you give! What would you recommend in my case? I’ve just migrated my site to a shopify platform ( during 1 year my site was on another less known platform) . So, after the migration google still sees a lot of dead weight links to the previous urls. So almost each time my site appears on the search result to sends to 404 page , even though the content does exist but on a new site the url link is no more the same. Btw, it’s an ecommerce web site. So how can I clean all this stuff now ? Thanks for your help! Inga

  71. Hey Brian,

    Awesome piece, as usual.

    Friendly suggestion to add the “rel=0” parameter to your YouTube embeds for this post. As you know, when the video ends, it doesn’t always suggest videos that have Backlinko’s dwell time in mind 😉


  72. A good review and case study. I follow your steps with insane detail, not just in the posts that I create.

    I just launched a new site, with one of the posts around a main keyword search of 10,000/month with competition. I created an insanely detailed post with over 2,500 words (no fluff either;) ), and it’s ranking around the mid 20’s with only 5 backlinks. That’s when it came out of Googles sandbox.

    I can’t imagine what my new site will be like once I go all out with a solid white hat backlink campaign like you show us Brian.

    Thanks for sharing and leading the way!

    1. Awesome Todd. Yup, building white hat backlinks should definitely help. That’s still Google’s most important ranking signal.

  73. Brian – this was amazing.


    I’m bookmarking this so I can come back to it and really make my site awesome. It’s obvious how much time you put into it. Thanks for making it easy for novices to understand. Appreciate you.

    1. Thanks Bethany. Yup, this post took about 20 hours to write (which doesn’t even include the time Sean and I spent actually doing the work). But to me it’s well worth it.

  74. As always Brian, love it.

    I really like your “dead weight” suggestion at the beginning of this post.

    I am getting ready to launch a new site, and per your advice, want to keep things lean. It sounds like you would recommend limiting the architecture to just a homepage and a handful of REALLY good pages.

    Is it fair to say that you use your emails like other people use blog posts?

    I’m thinking this might be a good strategy for me to think in terms of…

  75. Hi Brian,

    Awesome post man.

    I’ve used quite a few of your strategies to good effect. I am in the process of creating an Excel sheet with all your tips – not easy 🙂

    We are a small business servings our immediate area. My initial goal was to rank high locally. Thanks to your strategies, we are now not only doing well locally, but ranking nationally for some of our top keywords…. nice.

    Hope to replicate the success with an eCommerce site…

  76. Brian,

    Thanks for another amazing post, I don’t know what we would do without you.

    Also, I wanted to let you know that your videos are having trouble with mobile viewing. The first issue is that they’re not loading, the second is that they’re going outside of the parameter. I can send screenshots if you would like.

    Thanks again for the amazing information, you rock.

  77. Brian,

    Great article once again! Love it!

    Quick question, when deleting 10k pages like that, do you think it’s bad to have so many dead links? Or did he 301 redirect every single link?


  78. Hi Brian,
    Very interesting article for an SEO novice like myself. I know I have a great brand to offer but getting my head around this is a task in itself! Its funny, I have had a wine online store now for many years as an extension to my wine import company. I have never put any time or money into it and can somehow get first page google listings. Recently though I have added another online store to my business specialising in rare wines of the world and I don’t even list on google! If your looking for more case studies to work with I would love to offer my new online rare wine store to pull apart!

  79. Hi Brian,

    Great post! It’s amazing to see you manage to drive so much traffic with just 33 published posts! Very informative post!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome, Adithya. Yup, it goes to show the whole “Google loves huge sites with lots of content” idea is completely false. It’s all about putting out the best content on the planet (and promoting it).

  80. Refreshing and valuable strategies, thanks a lot for sharing it with us! just a question, is there any infographic or PDF with the summary of the SEO checklist for a quick review the next time i do on-site SEO? 🙂

  81. Awesome case study, Brian.

    Good to know that Sean’s organic traffic has increased with your great suggestions.

    Sure! I’ll remove the dead weight blog posts on my blog to perform better.

    I have a quick question!

    I’m ranking for a keyword in the Google 2nd page top.

    I have published relevant content for that ranking post and interlinked – It is my old story.

    Recently I have published another 2 blog post (Good quality content). Would it be fine if I interlink the new posts to the ranking post?

    I didn’t do it! Because I’m worrying that the 2nd page ranking would get affected.

    What would be your suggestion, Brian?

    Awaiting for your helpful reply!

      1. If my website has lots of external broken links, then what should I do with those types of external broken links.

        How can I fix them?


  82. Great checklist Brian and it’s fun to implement all the points to my own blog inspect of one my page load time is far better then Sean 😉 just kidding I will surely implement all these points asap but right now I am focusing on producing high quality content as I have just launch my blog.

    1. Sounds good, Hammad. Sitespeed is important but not important unless you have the foundation: amazing content that blows people’s minds.

  83. Hi Brian,
    No doubt, it’s an awesome SEO check list. The improvements you did in Sean’s case is game changer. I will definitely follow the list. One thing I am missing is, you have not covered off page SEO (Link Building) here. Is there any specific reason? Please let me know.
    Overall it was a great read for me. Great help as usual. Thanks 🙂

    1. Glad you liked it, Riyaz. This post is focused on technical/on-site SEO. If you want link building info, I recommend checking out my other posts.

  84. hi ,Great Informative post Brian !!!
    I have a Question – Like if we can back-link on a particular article and then we modify the post’s url ,So the back-link would be affected ?

  85. Hi Brian, great post again.
    I have just started an authority website. I am using many of your strategies like skyscraper technique etc. And they are working good.
    I have a question….

    My website is in a very competitive niche “health and fitness” , most of the keywords are ranked by giants like nhs, greatist etc.
    I should focus on less competitive keywords (less searches) or I should rank on high competitive keywords(tons of searches) using skyscraper technique ??

  86. Hey Brain,

    Thanks for one more amazing SEO post. This was the perfect SEO checklist.

    I’m glad I read this post.

    P.S The video was nice 🙂

    Thanks once again,

  87. Thank you very much Brian for this awesome SEO checklist, I’m really having difficulties increasing my blog organic traffic and the “dead weight” part is I think the main problem, lots of low quality blog posts. I was also amazed that this site with only 33 blog posts generates a whooping 150k visitors per month, that really motivated me and I will definitely apply this checklist and come back here to tell you my personal results after I’ve done all the tweaks.


    1. You’re welcome, Vinson. I definitely recommend at least considering deleting some of your “dead weight” pages. As you saw, it can definitely help.

      1. Hi Brian,

        Will it be considered as dead weight pages even that page has a high metrics such as a page authority of 30 or below, or let’s say a trust flow? I’m also planning to compile the smaller posts to a big one post and placing a 301 redirect to the individual pages.

        1. Vinson, if the page has authority then it probably brings in organic traffic. That means it’s not a Dead Weight page (most of the time).

  88. Read through all the content in the post and found it very helpful in found out the reasons one of my sites is not ranking well anymore . I found that the category and tag pages are indexed making duplicate content. I am going to remove those tag and category pages from index and make them no-index . Is it a good idea ?

    1. Gowtham, that can definitely be an issue and yes I recommend noindexing WordPress category and tag pages.

      1. Hmmmm, bugger. I just went through and 301 redirected all of the tag pages (I deleted the tags so the pages went to ‘404 Not Found’).

        Would it be best to remove the redirect and just noindex all the tag pages instead? Cheers

  89. Firstly thanks so much for the amazing content Brian. I have been following your content for some time, and the content you put out has been short of fantastic! I am starting to implement some of what you have been teaching.

    I have a question. You suggested to remove dead weight pages. Are blog articles that do not spark as much interest considered dead weight pages? For my designing and printing company, we have a student blog within my company’s main website in which a handful of articles do extremely well, some do ok, and some do really badly in terms of the traffic and interest they attract as well. Does that mean I should remove the articles that do badly?

    Also I heard that internal linking from your website’s super high ranking articles to your website’s lower ranking articles will help to improve the ranking of the lower ranking articles. And as long as there is a link going back to your higher ranking article in a loop, the higher ranking article’s ranking also will not be affected much. What are your thoughts on SEO silos such as this? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

  90. Quality post.
    Regarding #1, I myself was/am pruning an e-commerce for duplicate content and bad indexation like “follow, index” on massive amount of category filters, tags etc. So far I’m down from 400k on site:… to 120k and its going down pretty fast.
    That being said, to be honest, I did not notice any significant improvement in ranks (for example for categories that had a lof of duplicate content with URL parameters indexed). The scale (120k) is still large and exceeds the number of actual product and pages by 10x, so it might be too early to expect improvement(?)

    1. Simon, deleting dead weight pages won’t help 100% of the time. Keep in mind that your site needs lots of quality backlinks to rank. But if you have lots of great links, step #1 can help.

  91. Amazing Case study Brian. Taking the Page speed into notice, I checked the stats of my website which came out to be decent enough. Though, it lagged in browser caching, combining javascript and CSS files. Can you suggest me a plugin or so?

  92. Hi Brian,
    Great case study!

    I have my very own Backlinko-Tips-Notebook which I update every time I read your awesome stuff. It really helps my work in creating value for my customers and their customers. A ‘win-win-win’ situation 🙂


  93. What would be the best way to get rid of Category pages? I suppose I should exclude them from the sitemap to start with?

    And from there on? Can hardly imagine I need to redirect them, as people wouldn’t be able to browse them anymore :).

      1. Thx, fixed! 🙂

        Do you recommend doing this for every type of blog? Or just when you’re blog is getting more and more articles?

        Moving to next step now, redirecting old (not relevant) content towards other posts.

      1. Well ive been doing a ton of sitewide changes. Off your list inclusive of killing dead pages, optimising for CTR, increasing on page dwell time, etc.

        The page in question on my site technically ranks for a ton of kws and is one of the most important sections of my site. There is 5 pages replacing one in a way, but either way I spent ages optimising it for UX and SEO. Either way ill be using this list going forward. Thanks

  94. Great post as usual! Thanks Brian.. I will try this checklist for my client and let you know the results.

  95. Brian, fantastic post as usual. The 7 steps were simple to follow, and I have already begun to search through dead pages and 301 re-direct them to stronger and more relevant pages within the site. I do have a question for you if that’s ok? I work within the B2B market, and our main product is something the end user would buy every 3-5 years and the consumables they will re-purchase every 3-6 months on average. How can I come up with new content ideas that not only interest them but will allow them to become brand advocates and share this content with a bigger audience? cheers

    1. Thanks Adam. I’d focus 100% on building an email list and sending them good stuff. That way when they’re ready to buy you’ll be top of mind.

      1. Thanks, Brian, our email database has around 20,000 entries at present that cover a broad range of industries and job roles. I am cautious of being too pushy with upsells. I read your post on keyword research and wanted to ask if you feel it is a good idea to broaden maybe the topics we cover?

  96. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for another amazing blog post. I can´t stop taking notes, as usual. Much value for SEO experienced and amateur people.

  97. Superb post yet again Brian.

    I think the number of words in comments outnumber the words in the post. Shows what an amazing job you did.

    Thanks for this post.

  98. Awesome post as usual, Brian. Definitely want to print out the checklist and stick it to the wall as a helpful reminder – thanks for that, Scott!

    And thanks for linking to some of your other videos, I hadn’t seen the one on improving organic traffic.That will come in handy 🙂

    All the best.

  99. Thanks for another monstrous post full of SEO gems. This has so many gold nuggets for me that I have picked up and going to utilize pretty soon.

    You rock, Brian.

  100. Excellent stuff, Brian!

    In the case of category and tag pages, what’s the best SEO solution for those pages? Will a noindex suffice? Is it better to redirect them?

  101. As noted above by others, yours is seriously probably the only blog that I read all of the posts all the way through. You definitely know your stuff when it comes to making your content user friendly (because I’m a serious skimmer and have the attention span of a fly). But more importantly the content is immensely helpful and I’ve used some of your techniques on my own site so far and am working on a couple of client sites and can’t wait to really dig in and use your checklist & techniques there too. LOVE the printout idea, will definitely be using that too. Thanks!

  102. Awesome post Brian once again! Pure Gold. I just saved the PDF steve has created as a checklist.

    Brian, I saw that the Page Speed is still hovers around 4 sec for 100 best job boards, it can further be improved by implementing CDN. We have observed at-least 10 percent improvement in website speed by implementing CDN.

  103. Epic post. Actionable ideas and great presentation. Going to put it into practice this week. This is one of the few sites that I bother to stop what I’m doing when I get an email and proceed to read and take notes. Keep ’em coming!

  104. Really really great info! I have the same issue of it being so overwhelming because we have so many pages and when I took over the site there was so much already there with no SEO thought put into it at all. So I have been working on cleaning it up slowly but surely. I am going to use these tips for sure. Thank you!!!!

    1. You’re welcome, Sarah. Yup, I’ve been in your shoes. With consistent action you can make a ton of progress with a huge site.

  105. I have been reading and checking this post since morning.I hope I have assimilated all that you have said. Will start working on my site.

      1. Hi brian

        how it could happen, with only 33 posts already exceeds the limits of traffic?

        What techniques do to be like that

        1. Iko, I publish world-class material and promote the heck out of it. There’s also keyword research, on-page SEO, branding, CTR etc. etc. Hard to explain in a comment…

  106. Hey Brian,

    This is awesome. I love how you spell things out…simply. How you explain things makes sense and in a world where people rarely understand what we do, that is stellar. Thanks again.


    1. Hey Gary, thanks. Yup, SEO is simple in some ways. But it also requires a ton of hard work and an expert’s touch. I agree that client’s could appreciate everything that goes into a site audit by reading this post.

  107. Great article truly.

    I have a question about the photos that you told Sean to use. Where and how do you get these. Do you make them yourself, or have them made/

    1. Yes, we have a license for Adobe’s stock images. If you dig through them, you can find good ones.

      It’s usually people that look the worst and get re-used everywhere on the web. You see the same stock photo models on every site.

      So if possible, we try to stay away from using a person in the shot.

  108. Remark: during step 6 (Boost Site Speed) you write that “Sean’s loading speed significantly improved”. However the screenshots you shared show his page load time only improved from 3,9s to 3,6s. Surely results like this leave further room for improvement.

    1. Good point, Stijn. The tweaks also dramatically reduced the page size etc. So there was progress on that front.

  109. Great post as always Brian,

    My question is, if I was to delete the categories on my blog,will this have any adverse affect on SEO because of the pages that have already been created?

  110. Hey Brian,
    I like the way you explain everything with the proof. Its really very helpful. Now I have also started to delete/redirect dead weight pages on my blog.

    I have read this entire post from beginning to end now I am going to read Skyscraper post which I just opened in new tab 🙂


  111. Nice list to follow. I would defenilty try it out. Does it applicable for technology blog too? Some article may not get noticed but the content are good. Feel pain to delete it!

    1. Rajiv, yup it’s not easy to delete something you’ve worked hard on. You can also combine several posts to create one mega-post.

  112. Hi Brian,

    thiis is indeed an awesome post. Actually, it is what I was looking for for a long time.

    Did you or Sean anticipated this kind of increase in traffic in anyway? If so, how? I wouldn’t know how to come up with a way to estimate the results.

    Thank you!

    1. Oliver, great question. While I’ve used this checklist several times and see impressive results, it’s impossible to estimate accurately. I just know it works most of the time.

      1. Let’s say we look at the first step more closely because most of the other steps are more common than delete thounds of pages.

        Couple of question:
        1. Do you think this action can have an impact on its own?
        2. Did you and/or Sean look at the GA data, if so did you delete pages that generate any kind of traffic/pageview aswell?
        3. How exactly did you decide which pages to cut? (I can’t imagine you did just look at the search results and the frontend page)

        Thank you!

        1. Hi Oliver, I actually cover the answers to those questions (and a lot more) inside of my premium training program, SEO That Works. So I recommend enrolling the next time we open up.

  113. Nice case study.

    Wanted to check what you adviced to Proven in order to get rid of duplicate content and googled atlanta jobs. Found out that some pages that still there and have incorrect settings. Once you click there 301 cycling redirect happens. It’ better to fix I suppose.

    1. Hey Alexey,

      I just ran the same query and it looks like there are some bad pages in there. Working on a fix now to 301 redirect those pages and clean things up.


  114. Brian, ageain a great case study.

    When you say about keywords in the body of the article, it reminds me one of sites which was stuck on top of the second page for quite awhile, jumped to first page just by adding the keyword in the body.

    Sometimes we SEOers need to get reminded basics. Ha.ha…

  115. Thank you Brian.
    Lots of people on the Internet believe that Google loves websites with lots of pages, and don’t trust websites with few pages, unless they are linked by tons of good website. That would mean that few pages are not a trust signal, isn’t it? You suggest to reduce the number of webpages. I currently run 2 websites, one with millions of pages that ranks quite well, and one with 15 quality content pages, which ranks on 7th page on google results. (sigh)
    So are you sure you’d cut pages out with a hatchet? What do you think about? Thanks again!

    1. Giada, I’d only cut pages that don’t add value. What I’m saying is that the # of pages on your site isn’t likely a ranking factor. But having lots of low-quality pages is.

  116. How important is the “big picture/large heading before your post begins”? It’s tough to find a suitable free WordPress theme (strict budget). I found a great one but it just doesn’t have this.
    I looked at Neil’s sites and he doesn’t use this. Perhaps if I can make an enticing image with a caption, it can pull people down so I don’t have to do this?
    Any suggestions other than using stock photos?

  117. Hello Brian,
    Thanks for the awesome case study! Though most of your tips are already implemented on our website( ), but deleting the dead pages is something I was wishing to hear from a giant like you!

    I will also take some time to go through other steps as well and give you a small recap about what has happened!

    By the way, I liked the raven tool a lot, so I have just unsubscribed from woorank and took the new tool. I am also using ahrefs!

    Here is a short question: In the case study Sean had approx. 48k pages, and then you deleted 10k out of them! So within 48k pages there should definitely be dead pages, but if we have 300 pages, will deleting the dead pages(up to 50/100) help us as well? Should I delete the dead pages in this case as well?

    Thank you!

    1. Gev, in my opinion is usually helps to delete all dead weight pages. That said, 50-100 of them usually isn’t as big of a deal as 10k.

  118. I just checked this post on Google. It’s already ranking on position 7 for the keyword “seo checklist”, only after 2 days and with page authority 1 and no backlink – according to MozBar.

    You sure know how to create landmark contents. Keep it up, Brian!

  119. Hi Brian, awesome checklist.

    One question though, do I need to can the dead pages if they have a canonical tag?

    I have some search results listed from an alphabetical list of client profiles.


    1. Thanks. It’s more for established websites. But the principles (like weeding out dead weight pages) apply.

  120. I’m amazed by your post, Brian.

    However, I’m much more amazed on how you have the time to reply all these comments.

  121. Awesome case study Brian and loved the checklist!

    I had a question. Around Step 7, you mentioned this:
    “First, Sean included all of his job descriptions on a single page.”

    Don’t you think having 5 different pages for specific categories is better than 1 page for all categories?
    From a keyword ranking perspective – you can rank for niche keywords in your industry and be absolutely sure to rank for them. By keeping all the categories listed on one mega page, you’re putting all your bets in one box. What if you don’t end up ranking for that keyword?

  122. Just came to say great post. I’ve implemented lots of these techniques over the years, but you outline a solid structured process. I love the post. Found it on Twitter. Will subscribe!

  123. What a timing! We were on the dead-weight pages cleaning spree for one of our websites having 34000+ pages indexed. Just yesterday deleted all banned users profiles from our forum.
    We were on the cross roads of what to do with 9000+ user profiles, out of which around 6500 are indexed in Goog but are not of any organic traffic significance. Your post gave us that confidence. We have used meta tag “noindex, follow” them now. I want to see the effect of just this one thing (if any) so wont proceed to points #2, 3, 4, 5 yet. Will give this 20-25 days to see if we get any changes in traffic just by removing dead weight pages.
    Thanks for excellent value with all your articles.

    1. Sounds good, Ankur. There’s nothing wrong with taking it slow to see how each step impacts your search traffic.

  124. Hey Brian, I sincerely appreciate you for such a wonderful post SEO and I got impressed with your informing style on this topic.

    This SEO checklist is amazing and glad to know that it works 10 times faster than other things in SEO. Reading your post, I must say that it fulfills all expectations as we need to use it. Your tips for improving CTR is awesome and useful to reduce bounce rate easily.

    Your step by step information on SEO checklist helped me to understand easily it. Also, screen shots are great way to know about it easily. We always want to see our site traffic growing up and up, and optimizing through your tip it will really help grow it soon.

    Thanks a lot for presenting such a brilliant idea in front of us.
    Have a good day.
    – Ravi.

  125. Dear Brian,
    From sean ‘s case, 10k pages deleted. In this case, i am worrying that thousand of long tail keywords are deleted also.
    Does that means we don’t need long tail keywords any more for google?

  126. Hi Brian,

    Wonderful tips!
    I am running a site which is about 3 years old. It has more than 100 articles. There are some articles which are not ranking well in Google and some are on the 2nd & 3rd page. Would you recommend me to delete them all? What would be the better way to handle those low quality articles.

    1. Tauseef, if you only have 100 pages I wouldn’t necessarily delete them. I’d work on making them better.

  127. Hey Brian,

    Glad too see another successfull case,
    I am using your on-page seo tricks since few months and the results are in ! I am just by BH guys with their fake backlinks and that’s fantastic …

    I mixed some of your tips to win 550% organic traffic in just 75 days.

    In near future, I will start to use skycrapper technique and build a fair backlink strategy hoping it will help.

    Thanks again dude, you’re awesome 🙂

  128. Hey Brian, this is the first time I reach to your blog and I think is great.

    You can be sure that you have another reader in your 110.000 visits per month list! 😉

    Thanks for your blog, best

  129. Sean … Thanks for these great tips. I’ve been able to see a significant increase in traffic to my site. I follow-up up on your tip in this article for page speed. Using the GTMetrix tool, I was able to move from an F to a C score. The Yoast plugin has also been a great tool as if reminds me of the things I need to optimize every time I post.

  130. Your advice on how to improve my sites CTR was spot on. I went in and checked what people were using as Ads and changed my snippet a bit and over night my listing went from 9 to 3. Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing this with us

  131. Hey Brian,

    first time i really enjoy to read this post & tell me plz how can i get your SEO course i want to start my new website by following your tips.

    waiting for reply


    1. Hi Dwight, my course (SEO That Works) will open up later this year. If you’re on the newsletter you’ll get a heads up.

  132. Hi Brian,

    Great read, thank you for sharing your insights.

    I am going to try and remove dead weight pages on our main agency site and see what happens. Is the general rule of thumb you use that if the page has links then use a 301, if not then no index?

    1. Hey Hitesh, sounds like a plan. It depends. If you have another page that it makes sense tor redirect to, then yes. A 301 redirect is for when a page moves. So it should only be used in that context.

  133. Great actionable tips Brian.
    Question: do you think the change from them having the exact same title tag and page url words of .”niche talent” hurt more than if both were ” Job Seekers and Recruiters” to begin with?

    1. Thanks Frank. Ideally there wouldn’t be “niche talent” in the title or URL. But as you saw the title tag matters much, much more when it comes to CTR.

  134. Hi Brian
    Thank you for this great article!
    I have a question for the first step: how do you choose which pages to remove on a news site? sometimes, the content is “dated” but at that time it was useful. Should I noindex it? or even delete it?
    My site is 10 years old, with +3000 posts, with about +2000 are “dated”.
    I’ve tested in Analytics: ~400 of them didn’t generated any session in the last 12 months. But at the time of their writing, these articles were interesting.

  135. To me click-thru rate and bounce rate (or pogo’ing) are 2 very over look factors. I take great care in crafting awesome Meta Descriptions that get the searcher to click-thru. Also I find that video embedded on a page will cause the user to engage thereby decreasing bounce rates and increasing time on site.

  136. Bookmarked.
    Such a great Post.
    Small Question:
    Looking at my site. I have some of the pages indexed in google you know such as and down to /10
    Or so.
    Looking at backlinko you don’t have this.
    How should I tackle this? Or should I ??

    And if I would de-index them, how would google discover my content?

  137. Hi Brian,

    I love your site and all of your content. I am so excited to sign up for SEO that works next time.

    I think this content might help a lot when I already have some type of organic traffic coming in. My issue right now is just getting 100/month. Probably a similar place a lot of people are in.

    I will say that a few months ago, I couldn’t even try the Skyscraper Technique because I wasn’t ranking for ANYTHING. I am thinking I might be able to try now but let’s see!

    Thanks for all of the tips.

  138. Hey Brian,

    Love this post – what’s funny is Sean from Proven actually reached out to us a couple a weeks ago for an interview- he’s clearly working hard.

    I’m going the checklist and implementing this week. One question- for the images, do you know if it is better to change the image Alt text within blog posts, or within the media library in WordPress?

    It seems if you update the media library, the published blog posts don’t get updated, so it’s twice the work.

    Do you know if both should be updated in the media library or published posts?

    1. Hey Dean,

      Yup, Sean is legit. He’s smart and executes like a boss!

      Hmmm. I honestly don’t know that one. I’d try it with one image and see what happens.

  139. Thanks yet again Brian.

    I have optimised the images for DSG (not for PDC though) and have “optimised” the site speed for both (though that doesn’t necessarily translate into reality!). I haven’t yet used ‘inviting’ subheadings nor have shortened the paras sufficiently but I will. And more.

    This is truly a magnificent reference article. I am particularly grateful that, unlike one of your competitive (and self-referenced) ‘gurus’, your material lands lightly and only frequently enough for me to have enough time to act upon it!

  140. Fantastic post Brian!

    A question about step #1: I have a blog that is like 6 years old with quite a few old low quality blog posts. In order to keep the google index clean to have only high quality sites in this index, I set most of them to noindex. Do you think this does the same job or should I delete and redirect them?

  141. Hi Brian, This is a great article, we were pleased to see we’d already addressed some of things you’d mentioned and can confirm the importance of site speed. We reduced some pages load time from around 5s a page to 400ms – and haven’t looked back.

    Something I did find interesting was the “Dead Wood” idea, getting rid of pages with little value. However I’m not sure how we should handle more informative site related pages, such as how to use the shopping kart and information about packaging. Arguably these hold no SEO value and are potentially diluting the site, but on the other hand they are a useful aid. Thanks.

  142. Hi Brian,

    great article! Just wondering about a thing:

    Regarding Advice #1, Wouldn’t you say that not cutting job pages after they expire will positively contribute to long-tail keyword rankings?

    Say for example after a job expires. Obviously it cannot be found through a search on (because it is expired), but it might be found through search engines. The example you show is the “Baking Manager / Baking Assistants”. Say someone searches for “Baking Manager in South Bay” on Google; that specific job page might rank well and it might be a way for Proven to get someone to visit their website. And once on the website, even if the job has already expired, the user might stay on the site (especially if you have for example a “Similar Jobs” box on the side showing only active jobs.

    Same goes for employer profiles. For example the picture you are showing of the company named Serpentine. If someone searches for Serpentine jobs in San Francisco, they might be able to find that page, and even if it has 0 jobs, some of the users might then just keep on browsing on

    Would like to hear your expert advice on this.

    Thanks and keep up the fantastic blog!


        1. Because they’re still pages you need to manage. It’s also hard for tools like Raven and SEMRUsh to work because they will count those pages as live. Easier to delete them in many cases.

  143. I was just trying to convince a contact that, despite what their other SEO consultant said, there’s nothing wrong with killing off their taxonomies to improve their indexing and consolidate PR. So big thanks for that ammunition. 🙂

    Do you have any idea if there any WordPress plugins that could create a job filtering system like that? I’ve only seen a couple filterable skyscraper posts in the wild (like Point Blank SEO’s) but so far I haven’t found any way to build something like that without doing it from scratch or calling in a developer.

    In any case, congrats on another platinum tier post, and keep up the good work.

    1. Happy to help, Joe. If this doesn’t convince them nothing else will 🙂

      Not sure of any WP plugins but I wouldn’t be surprised.

  144. Hi Brian,

    I’m a travel blogger and often there are no adword advertisements on Google (eg. long term travel planning). What would you suggest in these situations?

    Thanks! Gemma

  145. Amazing checklist brian. But I got a question I hope you might have an answer to.

    I have a tech blog There I post various articles including android rooting tutorials. As you might know there are some tools present which are able to root multiple phones.
    Therefore I generalized them and just posted link of that tool in rooting article.

    To make it easier to understand. Let’s say there are 2 phones A & B. and there is a tool x which can root both phone. Therefore I have created tutorial on how to use x software and then linked it to tutorial of phones A & B.

    Now articles of A & B only have very less words (around 100-150 words). What should I do so that it can improve my SEO? Should I no index them, unpublish them?

    Thank you

  146. We have been following the SEO that works methodology for ourselves and our clients for about a year now.

    Would you recommend that we “pause” our Power Page production and instead focus on knocking out this checklist?

    Second question – the majority of our SEO clients are eCommerce stores. While they all have products that have never been sold, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for them. Instead, their website just hasn’t been ranked high enough for them to be seen. In that case, would you recommend keeping those pages live?

    Thanks for your insight.

    1. You’re welcome, Stephen. It depends. If your client’s sites are on the small side (less than 1k pages), then I’d focus on your Power Pages.

      Good question there. The issue is they likely won’t rank without a lot more links/fewer pages. So I’d noindex them until the site gains authority.

  147. Hi Brian,
    As always your post is so informative and well explained, but I seriously have a doubt in mind, that you can help me with. Can we use this SEO Checklist and get good results for a site with lower referring domains(less back links) ??

  148. Interesting post but such method is good for promoting the blog. I have no clue how this checklist can be used to improve online shop ranking. I don’t write posts in the shop. Customer come to buy product so should I then extend product range? I think you could give some hints to shops, this would be helpful. Promoting blog is not a problem. I have a blog connected to shop and it ranks well only because of content updates. I don’t have to do much with it. Shop is an issue.

  149. Another outstanding article Brian! I always make sure to read your posts because I seem to learn something new in every one of them.

    The nice thing is these tips are all really actionable, so I’ll definitely be using them to optimise my, and my client’s, websites.

  150. Fantastic combo of a case study and tutorial, and a fine example of what a quality post looks like. You need more posts. Not for Google, for ME. 😉

  151. Hello Brian,

    This is a great article with a ton of very useful insights and action items. Are you available to meet and discuss the optimization of one of my clients companies in Las Vegas in the near future?

  152. Brian, this is awesome stuff. I can’t wait to get to work implementing these tactics. I’m going to start minimizing my images to increase my site speed and definitely working on crack meta descriptions.

  153. Just wanted to tell you guys thank you! It helped me a lot and I could immediatley do some changes on my site.

    Also a huge thanks to Brian. Your articles are amazing and I try to use all of you tipps. And it is pretty cool that you answer on every single comment!

    If you ever need someone for a testimonial, hit me up.
    In the meantime, I will try to read as many articles from you as possible.


  154. GREAT post guys! Question regarding Step #1 for removing dead weight. Specifically for WordPress websites, do you opt to remove specific pages, and if so, which ones? Or do you prefer to simply noindex those pages (archives, category pages, etc) with an SEO plugin?

  155. Hi Brian,

    Does optimizing CTR make sense for an article that appears on the second or third page of Google Search results?

  156. Thanks Brian, as usual your guide is amazing. I’m constantly trying to apply everything you preach to my website and for the most part it’s all done wonders, the only parts where I’m falling short is where I just don’t have the amount of time to do all of the outreach stuff.

  157. You really did great job on On-page SEO checklist brian. I had implement it on my website and i noticed significance change in client’s website ranking. Keep sharing such valuable information with us. Once again thanks

  158. Thanks for the post Brian ! currently i’m using your skyscraper technique to increase my website traffic. Although i’m not good as you but still your technique boost my traffic and also improve my google rank. I will apply this technique soon. Thanks for sharing it.

  159. Great case study, Brian! Thanks for sharing.
    I’m just setting up a whole new business. I’ll implement this right as I go.
    There is a downloadable pdf containing the checklist?

  160. Hi Brian,
    Down to my heart, I think you have left much to learn from this practical guide. As it were, you emphasized on your video that this techniques works without any backlinks, and/or guest post but could this work on new blog? Have actually launched series of blogs in the past and non seems to succeed. Meanwhile am planning to set up a new one base on what I have been reading on your blog, which I don’t wanna failed again not because I am afraid of failure though but dont want to get myself stocked in the air as it used to be.

  161. Thank you Brian for another great post, i’m reading your emails and following your tips on my blog and I do see increase and increase little by little (now its already like 5K daily from search engines) – because of you!

    Thanks again and keep sharing with us more tips and ideas!

  162. Brian,

    Greg from Viper Chill said he ran a CTR experiment for the Google searches and he didn’t see any changes in his positions.

    Thoughts? I can share the link to his article if you’d like.



  163. Hi Brian,

    A question about Dead Weight pages. Those page have to be deleted or ir can be mared and noindex?

    In my case, we have 200+ travel packages with many variations, that dont neccesary bring visitors to our page, but the visitor that come to our pages can see our options available and engage with our content.

    So, those page count as a dead weight? Or if i mark them as a noindex would be enough?


  164. Brilliant Post Brian!!

    You are proving as helping hand for SEO analysts who are not so skillful or having little less knowledge about practical SEO techniques. Thanks so much for sharing a great post.